Wildest Baby Naming Laws In The U.S.

There are so many factors to consider when naming your newborn. SheKnows lists a whopping 20 things new parents should think about before doling out a moniker to their little one. From which spelling to choose to how compatible the child's name will be with your own last name, there's certainly a lot to consider.

If you are a resident of the United States, you will also have to comply with your state's baby naming laws. That's right — many states have their own laws that you must follow when it comes to naming your kids. While some state laws are enacted for the benefit of the child, other laws aren't so cut-and-dry. In fact, some of them are just downright wacky. Do you live in a state with a completely bonkers set of laws? Keep reading to find out the wildest baby naming laws throughout the United States.

No name? That's okay in Connecticut and Michigan

Situated in New England, Connecticut is a beautiful state. It is home to Yale University, quaint towns, boutique shops, and impressive foliage in the fall. For all of the great things Connecticut has to offer, it also has one of the very strangest baby naming policies of all 50 states.

If you were to deliver your baby in the state, you would not be required to give your child a name. It may sound pretty unbelievable, but according to research presented by George Washington Law Review, Connecticut does not require a name to be entered on the birth certificate. 

As odd as that may be, Connecticut is not the only state that does this. According to Kay Bertrau, a research assistant from the Michigan Department of Community Health, a division for Vital Records and Health Data, "a child does not have to be given a name at all" in Michigan.

If you can't agree on a name, Florida can help

Different people naturally have different opinions when it comes to names. Maybe you want your child to have an original and unique name, but you partner insists on giving your baby a familial moniker. Eventually, you will have to come to an agreement, right? Well, that greatly depends on where you live.

If you live in Florida, state law dictates that, if you two can't decide, they will. This doesn't just apply to first names, either. If a couple cannot decide on whose last name to choose, both parents' surnames will be used. As the law states, the last names of both the mother and father will be separated with a hyphen and listed in alphabetical order.

If the child's given name, or first name, cannot be decided upon, Florida won't add it the birth certificate until a "joint agreement" is reached and is notarized by both mom and dad. If an agreement can't be reached, the baby's name will be "selected by a court." So, if you don't want Florida to pick your child's name, you better decide!

Not every state bans obscenities

While most parents would never dream of naming their child anything offensive or obscene, there are laws in place in many parts of the United States that strictly prohibit obscenities as a sort of fail-safe. Unfortunately, some states don't impose such restrictions.

According to Glenda Gordon, Kentucky Cabinet official for Health and Family Services, Kentucky's policy is to allow mothers to pick "any name she wishes." Likewise, Delaware, Maryland, and Montana also remain pretty hands-off when it comes to naming babies. Luanne Miles, an official from the South Carolina Division of Vital Records told the George Washington Law Review that South Carolina "allows[s] a mother to name her child without any restrictions."

However, just because these states technically allow any and all names, that doesn't mean state officials wouldn't intervene if a parent tried to name their baby something foul. While there may only be one way to find out for sure, we can't say we recommend it!

Cringe-worthy patriarchal naming laws in Tennessee and Louisiana

When it comes to assigning last names, baby naming laws in Tennessee and Louisiana are pretty antiquated. Here's how it works in Louisiana: If you and your partner were married "at the time of conception and birth of the child" or if you haven't been legally divorced for 300 days or more, the child would be given the husband's last name. Eek. However, if both the father and mother agree, the child can be given the last name of the mother or a hyphenated last name. Of course, this means that if the father doesn't agree, there's not much the woman can do about it.

The same sort of law applies in Tennessee as well. Both mother and father would have to "mutually agree" in order for the child's surname to be anything other than the father's last name. Needless to say, these laws are a blast from the past — and not in a good way.

California doesn't allow accent marks

Thinking about naming your baby Beyoncé in California? You may subscribe to the BeyHive, but California won't let you name your baby using any diacritical marks. Ironically, California is home to two state parks with names that utilize diacritical marks: Año Nuevo State Park and Montaña de Oro State Park. This is certainly a frustrating law for Spanish-speaking residents of California. 

When Pablo and Nancy Chaires Espinoza welcomed a baby boy to their family, Pablo wanted to name him Nicolás, as he himself explained to the Los Angelos Times. That didn't fly, however. "We thought it was an issue of the keyboard," Espinoza explained. In actuality, it was due to Proposition 63, a law that voters approved in 1986 that made English the official language of California. This, in turn, outlawed the use of "accents (è or á), umlauts (ö or ü) and tildes (ñ or ã)" on not just birth certificates, but marriage licenses and death certificates as well. Espinoza, and likely many others, hope this law will one day change.

Ideograms and pictograms are also out in California

Although allowing diacritical marks as part of baby names makes a lot of sense, there are special characters that are banned for good reason. According to The Chicago Tribune, California also bars "pictographs" and "ideograms." 

Pictographs date as far back as 3000 BC and make up the earliest known form of writing. In time, the alphabet replaced our need for pictographs, but that doesn't mean we no longer use them. Emojis are, in fact, modern day examples of pictographs. You can surely imagine why some parts of the United States wouldn't be too keen with emoji-named babies, however. Ideograms are similar to pictographs in that they use a character to represent a word. A no smoking sign is a good example of an ideogram and, likewise, a terrible name for a baby.

While it's totally understandable why a state would ban the usage of pictographs and ideograms in names, it is pretty wild that the state even had to do so.

Feel free to pick a random last name in Kentucky

Do you hate your last name and cringe at the very thought of passing it down to your child? If you live in Kentucky, you need not worry. According to the laws of the state, "the surname of the child shall be any name chosen by the parents." The options are essentially endless. Kentucky even spells out who gets to pick the name.

If the parents are either separated or divorced, whichever parent has custody of the child after his or her birth is the one who gets to pick the last name. In the event that the mother and father of the new baby are not married, the last name of the baby "shall be any name chosen by the mother." And you thought picking a first name was difficult! If you're Kentucky-bound, you may want to start trying out some last names for your little guy now. 

New Jersey bans symbols, but allows this

While New Jersey does have some laws by which parents must abide — no curse words, symbols, or numerals — they're pretty lax when it comes to what names get the A-okay. Basically, anything goes, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, told NJ.com

Per state law, "the designation of a child's name, including the surname, is the right of the child's parents." While most parents don't abuse that right, you have to wonder what the parents of Adolf Hitler Campbell and Jocelyn Aryan Nation Campbell were thinking when they chose those names for their kids. Although the parents claim they were just looking for a unique name, John Alpert, a Manhattan-based psychotherapist, explained, "Naming a child 'Adolf Hitler' shows a great irresponsibility on the part of the parents. The motivation seems to be entirely selfish, at the cost of the child's emotional health."

Nevertheless, New Jersey law allows such names to be given to children.

Baby names can't be too long in Massachusetts

How long is too long for a first name? If you have a baby in Massachusetts, you'll be limited to 40 characters. While it definitely makes sense to put a cap on how many letters you can use in a first name, the rationale behind the law isn't actually for the child's well-being as you might expect. 

Instead, Massachusetts limits first, middle, and last names to 40 characters due to "software limitations," Sharon Pagnano, a Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics official, told the George Washington Law Review. Even though this law is only enforced for technological reasons, we're sure preschoolers and kindergarteners in Massachusetts are thankful they don't have to learn how to spell their 40-plus character names.

Pagnano further explained that Massachusetts also restricts names to solely characters from the "standard American keyboard," which means both apostrophes and dashes are fair game, but accent marks are out.